Guide to the Olivia Rudolph Young Collection – History

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 Author and Poet Olivia Rudolph Young was born on May 15, 1894 in Lompoc California. After living in Lompoc for most of her childhood, Olivia’s father then moved the family all over Northern California until they finally settled in the town of Alameda. While going to high school in Alameda, Olivia was startled to hear the news that her father had dropped dead of a heart attack. In response to this event, Olivia joined the local church choir. Although she took her father’s death fairly hard, Olivia’s involvement in church activities would last a lifetime, thus helping shape her poetry later in life. After high school Olivia took more courses to enhance her skills in calligraphy and eventually got a job. Shortly thereafter, Olivia met George Young, a fellow member of the choir and the two were soon married on June 25, 1913. George and Olivia Young then started a family after they purchased their first home in Oakland California.

 By the time the children were on their own, Olivia had learned to play piano and organ at the local church. She also taught piano lessons during her time as the Choir Director/ Organist at the church she attended. Once Olivia had more time to herself she decided to attend poetry classes in 1946.  After these classes, Olivia’s writing became more eloquent as she wrote short stories about her early life along with countless poems related to her life experiences. Despite the fact that she was fairly new at writing poetry, Olivia’s work would eventually begin to be published in magazines in the mid 1950s. These early successes would lead to the publication of her first book, Take the Dirt Road in 1960. As a collection of poems and photos taken by Olivia to accompany her writing, Take the Dirt Road was a feat in itself but she wanted more. It was around this time that the Young family moved to Auburn and later Carmel where George studied painting as Olivia began to teach poetry classes. Then in 1963 George and Olivia moved to Santa Cruz after an invitation by the Santa Cruz Chaparral requested Olivia’s help.  While in Santa Cruz, Olivia became a member of the Santa Cruz Art League where she was curator for five years.  Mrs. Young was also able to continue teaching poetry classes in Santa Cruz and was also honored by the Santa Cruz Chaparral many times. After spending a decade in Santa Cruz, the young family moved to Pacifica. After moving to Pacifica, George unfortunately passed away in 1972.  Although her marriage of 59 years had ended, Olivia Young continued to publish poetry until her death in 1975.

 Aside from her many personal accomplishments, Olivia Young’s poetry and short stories are what really set her apart from the average Santa Cruz patron. After her brief success in the 1950s and 60s, Olivia Young continued to publish poems in magazines and other literary works including another book of poetry called The Honey and the Root.  Mrs. Young also published a textbook on the art of poetry with the help of her daughter Winnie Washburn called Rime Rhythm and Diction.  Although she only lived in Santa Cruz for a short time, I believe that the life of Olivia Young is still a piece of history that must be explored due to the breadth and significance of her accomplishments. Overall, I hope that whomever reads this uses it as a tool to explore an amazing person and uses her experiences to enhance their own.